You know when the red top tabloids describe something sex-related as a ‘romp’? Well, Madam, a memoir by former brothel owner Becky Adams fits that description like a masseuse in a rubber catsuit.
Drop any preconceptions you may have of prostitution; there are no blank-eyed, drug-addicted sex slaves here. What there is, however, is the fascinating story of a middle-class, convent-educated woman who has decided to share with us the highs and lows of twenty years in the sex business.
Madam starts out with some background on Becky’s childhood, the rather fraught relationship with her mother, the adoration of her rogueish dad with a bit of sibling rivalry thrown in. Teenage rebellion and unsuitable boyfriends follow and Becky looks set to follow so many young women down the road of petty crime, single motherhood and poverty. But instead she sets up a topless car wash, advertising itself memorably as ‘the best hand job in town’.
Acting as a minder for her friend who turned to prostitution to pay the bills when her husband left, Becky spots a distinct lack of professionalism and customer care in the escorting business and steps in to ensure client satisfaction. In every way. Before long, Madam Becky’s Massage Parlour is born and Madam Becky becomes an unlikely TV star in ITV’s Personal Services documentary, not to mention appearances on daytime television as she speaks out on behalf of sex workers and bares all the secrets of a suburban brothel.
Madam is tremendous fun to read; I will never look at a hand puppet in the same way again and the anecdotes of punters and girls are hilarious and endearing in a typically British Carry On fashion. I also now can’t hear the word ‘annual’ without being reminded of some of the services Becky’s kittens offered!
The book also exposes a more unpleasant side to the business though – a bullying brothel manager, near-constant harassment by irate neighbours, police, Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue, violence from rival operations and a particularly shameful campaign of petty tyranny by Aylesbury Vale District Council. It all takes its toll on Becky and leads to her retirement and a new career as after dinner speaker and campaigner to provide a more balanced public view of sex workers.
If you’re looking for an honest and witty account of a very British brothel, then settle down for a good old-fashioned romp with Madam Becky Adams , a nice cup of tea and a cake.